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Greetings, all! I bring news from afar! (or…not that far, depending on where you live). After my trip to the D3Publisher central offices in Los Angeles, where I met with Co-producers D3 and Tomy, as well as Tazmo from NarutoFan, Ty from Planet GameCube, and Zak from Anime News Network, I return with news about the two new games from the Naruto series, as well as some other information about all the Naruto stuff you want! ^_^

Naruto: Clash of Ninja is a new fighter for GameCube, produced by D3Publisher, which features Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Kakashi, Iruka, and Haku, as well as Rock Lee and Zabuza, in a 1- to 2-player battle system that incorporates both the physical aspects of a fighting game with the theory of Chakra, which dictates the powers of Shinobi.

The game features some pretty intense action scenes in the characters' special attacks, such as Naruto's Uzumaki Rendan, Zabuza's Kirigakure no Jutsu, and Sakura's "Berserk Inner Sakura" attack. The game has several modes: one-player, single-fight against the computer, two-player, story (which takes place from the start of the series up to and including the Wave Country mission), training, time battle, and more.

Although the game took only 6 months to develop the game in Japan, the amount of work put into the game is stunning, as each character features unique quotes from the voice actors who also star in the anime on Cartoon Network's Toonami. Each character's intro spiel is special to that character (we all know how annoying "Believe it!!!" can get), but the introductions (and endings) are different depending on whom they are fighting. For example, Zabuza spouts "I wasn't expecting you…" if pitted against Haku. Similarly, Sakura will freak out and apologize after she's beaten the pulp out of Sasuke. Another interesting point is that Rock Lee's voice was recorded for the game before he said any lines for the actual anime, since the game is coming out before his episodes even air on Toonami.

Characters' special attacks were all taken straight from the anime, with the exception of Iruka, who really doesn't have any special moves in the series, so his special move (shown) is what I like to call "Bad Student Beatdown." In addition to these, Naruto and Kakashi have special modes (Kyuubi mode for Naruto, Sharingan for Kakashi) which are unlockable.

The D3 press release says that Clash of Ninja is aimed at (direct quote) "Males 12-24." This made me chuckle, because I had a discussion with the associate producer over dinner, about exactly who the anime, manga, and games were directed towards. Even though Naruto is a Shonen (boys' manga), which is obvious since it's published in Shonen Jump, it appeals to girls as well. There are enough female characters in the story to be influential to the point of inspirational, if you look deep enough into their storylines. So, I'm not surprised at the female audience that the Naruto series and games have ensnared.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja for the GameCube is Rated T (Teen); retail price is set at $39.99 and the game will be released in March.
Naruto Press Release
Naruto: Ninja Council is the Game Boy Advance game which is also co-produced by D3Publisher. It's a side-scroller featuring seven levels of ninja goodness, along with several "boss" fights in between. The basic premise of the game (and the reason behind the title) is that it's more of a training course for Naruto or Sasuke (your choice) than an actual set of missions. You fight Konohamaru & Ebisu (who share HP), Ino, Chouji, Shikamaru, Rock Lee, Haku, Kiba, and…well, I never got past Kiba. The fighting system involves physical attacks, ninja tools (shuriken, kunai, and even senbon needles), and also Chakra techniques. It's pretty funny, actually, if you release the chakra at the wrong time, and see Naruto try a multi Kagebunshin no Jutsu and end up making one crappy version of himself…or trying an Uzumaki Rendan and ending up farting…maybe that was the trick to beating Kiba. I like the Harem no Jutsu best…beat Ebisu in one hit! ^.^ In addition, you learn new jutsus as you move throughout the game. To the right we see the Kyuubi Chakra attack, which can probably destroy any sub-boss character.

The paralleling with the anime is just incredible, as with Clash of Ninja. The characters' special chakra attacks are very accurate when compared to the series. Chouji's anger when he's called fat precedes his multi-size & meat tank jutsus, and Shikamaru's Kagemane no Jutsu is brutal if you're caught in it. In the series, if Ino's Shintenshin no Jutsu (Mind-transfer) misses, she's out for about 5 minutes. In the game, she immediately heals, but I think the game wouldn't be as challenging if it adhered so strictly to the storyline. I haven't beaten Kiba yet because of his fang-on-fang technique (the English adaptation of Tsuuga), but Lee was difficult as well, because when you fight him to about 1/3 of his total health, he calls Gai-sensei (Called Guy-sensei in the game; a small error I think) to help him. Gai punches Lee, calls him foolish, hugs him, then leaves (Geez, he's a nut), and Lee is restored to full health. But I guess if Naruto wants to ever become Hokage, he's going to have to overcome obstacles such as these…as so are you!

Naruto: Ninja Council for the Game Boy Advance is Rated E10+ (Everyone ages 10 and up); retail price is set at $29.99 and the game will be released in March.

Also coming out later this year (as far as we've projected) are…

· A Trading Card Game co-produced with Bandai

· Naruto action figures from Mattel

· A "lightning glove" which throws shuriken/kunai, making assassinations easier ^_^ (coming out in July)

· An interactive "chakra thing" (we didn't get too much info on it) that vocally assists you in learning the 12 ninja hand signs (Also to be released in July)

Later this…um…decade (we really don't know when), from D3, we should be seeing at least 3 other GameCube games, which I had the pleasure of testing out, which are basically Clash of Ninja 2 thru 4, simply progressing later in the storyline. I played one that had a 1- to 4-player battle system, in which players could battle in a free-for all, or one teams of 1-on-2, 1-on3, and 2-on-2. Players could choose from over 20 different characters, some of which had still not been unlocked when I played it (Tsunade, Orochimaru, and Itachi).

This game had much more development time, as it was later in the lifespan of the series. Indeed, the Clash of Ninja line shows great promise, and will not disappoint Naruto fans everywhere.

In related news…who would like a free video game? How about a free video game, before it's released?! Well...if you enter the fanart contest, you just might! That's right, D3Publisher and NarutoWorld are giving you the chance to win Naruto: Ninja Council or Naruto: Clash of Ninja...or both! Just submit your fanart as usual, and the winner will receive both the Gamecube and GBA games...the top 5 runners-up will receive one game (specify when you send your artwork!), and Masashi Kishimoto will be a very happy manga-ka!

Happy gaming,

~ Bluesummers